Q&A on AFT Executive Council Resolution: “AFT Support for 2020 Presidential Candidates”

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Q: The AFT executive council recently passed a resolution titled “AFT Support for 2020 Presidential Candidates.” What is the purpose of the resolution?

A: One year ago, the AFT executive council adopted a resolution outlining its 2020 presidential endorsement process and committing that we would engage members more than ever, that the process would be transparent, and that we would line up behind a candidate who shares our values, has a path to victory, and is supported by members.

After a year of the most robust member engagement program ever—listening to nurses, teachers, school support staff, bus drivers, adjunct professors, graduate employees, public employees and more from all over the country, and hearing about their aspirations and which candidates they connect with and trust—this new resolution builds upon the 2020 endorsement process and reflects where AFT members and leaders are. We agree that:

  1. Donald Trump is an existential threat to the values and aspirations of our members and those we serve.
  2. While several candidates share our values, three—Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren—share our values and have significant support within our membership.
  3. In our quest for a better life for our members and the communities we serve, to preserve our democracy, and to defeat Trump, we must ultimately be unified and support the eventual Democratic nominee.

Therefore, until the AFT makes a national endorsement in the primary process or during the AFT’s national convention, the executive council, by this resolution, is encouraging our members and leaders to actively support Biden, Sanders and/or Warren because they share our values, have demonstrated effective leadership through their records, have earned significant support within our membership, and are best positioned to achieve meaningful and lasting victories on the issues that matter to us most.

The 2020 resolution titled “AFT Support for 2020 Presidential Candidates” can be found here.

The 2019 resolution titled “2020 Presidential Endorsement Process” can be found here.


Q: Why is the AFT encouraging support for these three candidates and not the others?


A: Biden, Sanders and Warren stand out not only for their records of working and standing with us, but because they have the highest level of support among our members, including state and local affiliate endorsements, and a significant number of members and leaders are running for delegate in support of their candidacies. Although the details of their policy proposals may differ, they share a commitment to promoting and supporting public education, ensuring access to high-quality and affordable healthcare, combating climate change, and fighting to ensure that everyone has access to the American dream.

There are other candidates in the Democratic field who share our values, but these are the candidates who stand out on the issues that matter most to our members and have significant support among them.


Q: What has the presidential endorsement process been to date, and how has member support been identified

A: The AFT has conducted the most intensive, inclusive, transparent and engaging presidential endorsement process in its history with more than 300,000 members having participated. The process has included unprecedented direct engagement between the presidential candidates and AFT members via a national public education forum that was co-sponsored by the AFT in partnership with MSNBC and several community groups, and through 10 presidential candidate town halls with members from every constituency. The process has also included five regional meetings (as of Feb. 19, 2020) with state and local leaders; numerous telephone town halls, member surveys and polls; and candidate research. And state and local affiliates have conducted their own programs of member engagement as well.

Information on the process and on the candidates can be found at AFTvotes.org.


Q: Why the urgency to get involved now

A: We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. The primary process is already underway, and by the end of March 2020 more than 65 percent of the delegates will have been allocated to the presidential candidates. Therefore, it is essential that our affiliates, our members and our leaders engage with and support candidates now if we are to effectively influence the political dialogue. And this includes leaders providing their individual support as they feel compelled to voice their own preferences. 

Q: Does this mean the AFT will not endorse a presidential candidate

A: The AFT convention delegates will make a presidential endorsement in the general election. The AFT executive committee may still endorse a presidential candidate prior to the convention. Whatever the case, our endorsement will be based on which candidate shares our values, has the consensus support of the membership, and has a clear path to victory. Until that time, affiliates, members and leaders are encouraged to support Biden, Sanders and/or Warren.

Q: The resolution encourages leaders and members to run for delegate. How do I do that

A: Although each state has a different process for running for delegate to the party convention, they are all based on individuals supporting the presidential candidate of their choice and then getting elected locally either at a local caucus or convention, or, in some cases, on the primary ballot. If you are elected as a delegate, the AFT will provide a stipend to you to offset expenses related to your attending the Democratic or Republican National Convention. For more information, contact your state political party directly, visit www.aftvotes.org/2020-take-action, or call the AFT political department at 202-879-4454.

Q: Where can I find more information about the presidential candidates and the AFT endorsement process? What if I have additional questions

A: The AFT’s election website AFTvotes.org has detailed information on the presidential candidates, their positions on the issues, links to videos of the education forum and candidate town halls, and our endorsement process. Please visit that site.


If you have additional questions, contact the AFT’s political department at 202-879-4454.